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date: 22 November 2019

Actus musicuslocked

  • Howard E. Smither


A term used from the mid-17th century to the early 18th in Protestant Germany, particularly in the areas of Saxony and Thuringia, for sacred dramatic compositions based on biblical stories. The actus musicus is similar in function and general structure to the Lutheran historia, that is, both were performed within the context of the liturgy and both are musical and textual elaborations of a biblical story. The actus musicus differs from the historia in its greater use of non-biblical interpolations and its greater emphasis on the dramatic element. While both genres are important as antecedents of the oratorio of Protestant Germany, the actus musicus is related more closely to the oratorio and less closely to the liturgy than is the historia. See Oratorio §7.

MGG1 (B. Baselt) MGG2 (‘Historia’; G. Konradt) B. Baselt: ‘Actus musicus und Historie um 1700 in Mitteldeutschland’, Wissenschaftliche Beiträge der Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, ser. G, 8/1 (1968), 77–103...

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Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart
Die Musik in Geschichte und Gegenwart